Freddy Garcia Rumors
There was more bad injury news out of Oakland, as top Athletics prospect Addison Russell has torn his right hamstring and will be down for at least a month, according to a report from Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter). Though Russell was not necessarily expected to contribute much at the MLB level this year -- he had started his age-20 season at Double-A -- a prolonged absence will certainly be unwelcome news for an Athletics club that could hypothetically look to Russell for a late-season boost or audition for 2015. Here are a few more stray notes from the day:
- There is a sense that the free agent market for Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales could be thawing, according to a report from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Multiple clubs have gone to scout the pair, says Heyman, and Morales in particular seems to be drawing increased activity. Heyman cites the Orioles, Mariners, and Brewers as teams thought to have interest, with the Pirates also a potential landing spot.
- Free agent starter Freddy Garcia has been throwing to Drew and Morales, Heyman adds. Though Garcia has received minor league offers since being cut loose by the Braves, he is holding out in hopes of signing straight into a MLB role.
- The Twins will be among the teams with the most cash to spend through international bonus pools and the amateur draft. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN provides some updates on the club's current direction (Twitter links). Minnesota still has several hundred thousand dollars of uncommitted international cash to work with, and has narrowed its options for the 5th overall pick to eight players (most of whom are pitchers).
- As expected, Braves reliever Cory Gearrin will have Tommy John surgery and miss the 2014 season, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported yesterday (via Twitter). The 27-year-old was a useful arm last year, throwing 31 innings of 3.77 ERA ball after notching 20 innings at a 1.80 ERA clip in 2012. Though the club has already filled in for Gearrin in the immediate term, his loss takes another depth piece away from an organization that has suffered more than its share of recent pitching injuries.
Following his release from the Braves, right-hander Freddy Garcia has received multiple minor league offers, including one from the Rangers, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sport (on Twitter). However, Garcia is still holding out for a Major League opportunity at this time and is currently working out in Miami, per Heyman.
The Braves recently released Garcia, electing instead to go with fellow veteran Aaron Harang in their rotation early in the season (Harang had a stellar debut against the Brewers yesterday). Garcia was outstanding for the Braves down the stretch and into the playoffs in 2013, pitching to a 1.65 ERA with 20 punchouts against five walks in 27 1/3 regular-season innings before allowing two runs in six innings against the Dodgers in the NLDS.
However, prior to that resurgence in Atlanta, the veteran Garcia struggled in a 53-inning stint with the Orioles, posting an unsightly 5.77 ERA with just 26 strikeouts against 12 free passes. The 37-year-old Garcia said last month that he would prefer retirement to pitching in the minor leagues at this stage of his career. He has a 4.15 ERA in 2264 career innings with the Mariners, White Sox, Yankees, Braves, Phillies, Orioles and Tigers.
The Braves announced today they have given righty Freddy Garcia his unconditional release. Earlier this month, Garcia told MLB.com's Mark Bowman he'd retire rather than return to Triple-A. Garcia pitched in five games this spring, allowing nine earned runs in 17 innings. He would have earned $1.5MM had he made the Braves' Opening Day roster.
Garcia, 37, posted a 4.37 ERA, 5.2 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 2.02 HR/9, and 41.9% groundball rate in 80 1/3 innings for the Orioles and Braves last year. The Braves lost Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy this year to Tommy John surgery, and have also placed Mike Minor and Gavin Floyd on the DL. Minor and Floyd hope to be activated in April and May, respectively. The Braves seem to be planning to open the season with a four-man rotation of Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, David Hale, and Gus Schlosser, with Ervin Santana joining the mix around the season's second week.
Baseball prospect rankings are always fascinating, but often unsatisfying. Once all of the exciting projecting and future lineup construction has been completed, you are left to wait for the player to develop and reach the bigs. But youthful players more generally -- as distinguished from prospects -- can and often are a thing of the present. So, which teams have the best assemblage of young talent, prospects or otherwise? According to Jason Parks and the Baseball Prospectus staff, the Cardinals lead the way in a top five that belongs to the National League. The Pirates (#4) also land in that grouping, but the rest is occupied by National League East clubs: the Nationals (#2), Braves (#3), and Marlins (#5).
Here's more from the N.L. East:
- The Mets land at 12th on that list, led of course by a trio of young pitchers. One of those -- 21-year-old Mets hurler Noah Syndergaard -- has always wowed scouts with his stuff, but Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes that he has increasingly revealed a competitive personality as he's come out of his shell in New York. Mets brass is reportedly excited not only about Syndergaard's MLB-ready fastball, but also his attitude toward the role of being a starter. Of course, he does not figure to be much of a factor on the big league level this year, though scouts tell Martino that he could retire MLB batters at his current stage of development.
- Speaking of prospects, J.J. Cooper of Baseball America compiled a list of the players who received some consideration for inclusion in the outlet's Top 100. The two most notable names, perhaps, were A.J. Cole and Brian Goodwin of the Nationals, who appeared somewhere on every writer's list of the top 150 prospects and peaked at 49th and 51st, respectively. It is worth checking through the names for "just-missed" prospects from other teams.
- Freddy Garcia of the Braves is at quite the opposite side of his career at age 37. As MLB.com's Mark Bowman reports, Garcia has started the spring with a strong case for a rotation or pen slot, having now kept opponents off the basepaths entirely in his first five innings. If he ends up not receiving a big league spot, however, Garcia says that he will retire rather than spending time in the minors waiting for another shot.
Keep former big league shortstop and manager Jim Fregosi in your thoughts and prayers tonight. The six-time All-Star suffered multiple strokes while on a cruise and has been taken off life support in a Miami-area hospital, writes MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby. As a player, Fregosi played in parts of 18 seasons with the Angels, Rangers, Mets and Pirates, batting a collective .265/.338/.398. He went on to manage the Angels, White Sox, Phillies and Blue Jays over parts of 15 seasons, taking Philadelphia to the World Series in 1993. He is currently the Senior Advisor of Player Personnel for the Braves -- a role he has filled for 13 years. Fregosi's larger than life personality has endeared him to teammates, media members and colleagues for decades. We at MLBTR are keeping Fregosi, his family and his many friends in our thoughts tonight and wishing for the best. As you do the same, here are some notes from around the league...
- Dave Cameron of Fangraphs examines what a potential Mike Trout extension could look like, ultimately concluding that while the end result would be a shocking sum, the Angels would be wise to sign him to a nine-year, $260MM or ten-year, $300MM extension if possible. The longer the team waits, says Cameron, the closer it comes to getting into a free agent bidding war over Trout, which could push his price tag up toward $400MM.
- Freddy Garcia did not decide to sign with the Braves until the team offered him a March 25 opt-out clause, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman, and that clause will create an interesting battle for the team's final two bullpen spots in Spring Training. That Garcia would rather return to his family than pitch at the Triple-A level makes him a favorite to earn a spot on the team if he pitches reasonably well, and he could even temporarily push Alex Wood to the bullpen, writes Bowman.
- "Impatient is an understatement," Mets third baseman David Wright told Tim Rohan of the New York Times in discussing his desire to be a part of a winning club. However, Wright went on to say that he believes in GM Sandy Alderson's plan. Wright says he'd like to win before he feels like he cannot compete at a high level anymore. Rohan also spoke with Alderson and was told that there are no constraints on the club's payroll, and any lack of spending right now is a philosophical choice.
- In addition to the two-year, $14MM offer from that Mariners that he accepted, Fernando Rodney had offers from the Indians, Mets and Orioles, according to MLB.com's Barry M. Bloom (on Twitter).
After public expressions of interest recently between the Astros and Hall-of-Famer Nolan Ryan, the stage is set for another step forward. Team owner Jim Crane has arranged to meet Ryan in person at some point next week. Presumably, the two will discuss a role for the former Rangers CEO with a Houston organization that already features his son as its president of business operations. Here are a few more stray notes to round out the week:
- Freddy Garcia does not want to pitch in Triple-A for the Braves, tweets David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has an opt-out on March 25 that can be exercised if he has not been added to the MLB roster, but Garcia is confident that he won't need to do so.
- Two of his countrymen were cleared to sign today, but Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz is still ineligible to sign until February 19th due to age misrepresentation issues. He is now training in Arizona, tweets Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, and plans to showcase himself for scouts on at least two occasions in February. The 23-year-old has reportedly drawn wide interest from MLB clubs.
- 34-year-old infielder Ramon Santiago has chosen new representation, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. He will rely on the Beverly Hills Sports Council to find him a home after eight years with the Tigers.
12:48pm: Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that Garcia can earn an additional $1.25MM based on games started or an additional $1MM based on relief appearances. He can request out of his deal on March 25 if not on the roster.
11:51am: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that Garcia would receive a $1.25MM base salary upon making the club out of Spring Training. His contract contains big incentives for games started but lesser incentives for relief work, Heyman adds.
Garcia struggled in 53 innings with the Orioles last season, posting a 5.77 ERA with a 26-to-12 K:BB ratio before being acquired by the Braves in late August. Upon his transition to Atlanta, "The Chief" turned back the clock and fired off 27 1/3 innings of 1.65 ERA ball with much improved rate stats of 6.6 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9. The turnaround was so stark that Garcia landed a surprising postseason start for the Braves in which he held a potent Dodgers lineup to a pair of runs on eight hits and two walks with six punchouts in six innings.
Garcia is a veteran of 15 Major League seasons and owns a career 4.15 ERA with 6.4 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 41.9 percent ground-ball rate. He's seen time with the Mariners, White Sox, Yankees, Braves, Phillies, Orioles and Tigers in his big league career. The two-time All-Star finished second in Rookie of the Year voting back in 1999 and third in the American League Cy Young voting two years later in 2001 when he went 18-6 with a 3.05 ERA in a league-leading 238 2/3 innings.
The Red Sox would benefit most strongly if Masahiro Tanaka were to not be posted, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal writes. If Tanaka were to stay in Japan, not only would he not go to the Yankees, but prices for other starters (such as Ervin Santana and Matt Garza) would rise, and so would the value of the Red Sox's own pitchers, such as John Lackey, Ryan Dempster and Jake Peavy. Also, if Tanaka were to be posted next offseason, the Red Sox might actually bid for him. Right now, they don't have a need. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- The Blue Jays have offered outfielder Colby Rasmus to two teams in exchange for starting pitching, the Toronto Sun's Bob Elliott writes.
- If Corey Hart doesn't re-sign with the Brewers, the team could quickly deal for Ike Davis of the Mets, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Hart could make a decision tonight about where to sign.
- The Mets have had discussions with the Legacy Agency, which represents Freddy Garcia and Cesar Izturis, today, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports (via Twitter). Puma notes the Mets could sign either player.
- The Braves are on the lookout for a hitter for their bench, and Eric Chavez could be their top free agent option, reports MLB.com's Mark Bowman. They also continue to stay in touch with reliever Eric O'Flaherty.
Earlier today the Mets introduced Curtis Granderson at a press conference. Here's the latest news out of the New York market with the Winter Meetings in full swing...
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman spoke to several reporters today, including MLB.com's Bryan Hoch, and noted that he's been in contact with the agents for Mark Reynolds and Boone Logan (Twitter link).
- Hoch also tweets that the Yanks are receiving many calls on Brett Gardner but aren't shopping him. Cashman said he didn't sign Jacoby Ellsbury to trade Gardner.
- The Star-Ledger's Andy McCullough tweets that in addition to Gardner, the Yanks have received calls on Ivan Nova, Gary Sanchez and J.R. Murphy (Twitter link).
- Cashman also said that Michael Pineda is healthy and will compete for a rotation spot in Spring Training (Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News tweeting).
- Hoch adds that Cashman thinks it will be easier to sign a free agent pitcher than to work out a trade for rotation help.
- Newsday's David Lennon reports that the Mets will meet with the representatives for Freddy Garcia, Cesar Izturis and Johan Santana today (Twitter link). The team sees a good fit with that group of veterans.
- Granderson confirmed to reporters, including Newsday's Marc Carig, that the Mets were the lone team to offer four years (Twitter link).
The Orioles announced that they have traded Freddy Garcia to the Braves in exchange for cash considerations. The veteran will report to Triple-A Gwinnett, according to a press release from the Braves.
Garcia, 36, was optioned from the majors to the club's Triple-A affiliate back in late June. After giving the idea some thought, Garcia opted to stay in the Baltimore organization rather than try his luck elsewhere.
In total, the right-hander posted a 5.77 ERA with 4.4 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in ten starts and one relief appearances for Baltimore this year. Across 13 starts at Triple-A Norfolk, Garcia had a much stronger 2.84 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9.